Welcoming children this Back to Church Sunday

Sue Mitchell, Children and Families Missioner, talks to us about the importance of including children this Back to Church Sunday BTCS. Sue has advice and tips for all churches, especially those without Sunday School provision.

Why is it important to welcome children as well as adults on BTCS?

Quite simply because Jesus told his disciples, “to welcome a child is to welcome me!”.
It’s quite a mind blowing thought to consider that the way we welcome when we welcome children to our churches we are actually "welcoming Jesus." Why would we not want to do it! Children have a special place in God’s kingdom and we have a responsibility to recognise that and take special care of our welcome to them.

What if we don’t have any Sunday school provision at present?

This really shouldn’t be a problem or an excuse for not including children! Plan your service on BTCS to include all the ages. What will you do to create a sense of community, consider how to be multi sensory, Think about using a creative prayer idea. How could you tell the bible story in an interactive way? Consider ways to reach all the ages?
Why not let children and young people be involved in the planning of the service, give them specific roles perhaps welcoming at the door.

This year our resources are based around the Feeding of the five thousand. Take this as the theme for your service; consider holding a Bring and share lunch or a picnic (weather permitting!) for the whole church family, it’s a wonderful opportunity to get to know each other better.

It’s really important to encourage relationships. Children love to be included all we do - they want to belong and be active participants in our church communities. Not having a Sunday school really isn’t a valid reason for not including the children on Bach to Church Sunday. 

What are your top 5 tips for a child friendly welcome?

Hard to limit it to five, but I feel these are key!
  1. At your church door try to get down to the child’s eye level to say hello; don’t tower above them, and if you know their names use them!
  2. Give children a hymn book or a service sheet it doesn’t matter if they can’t read, include them as you would adults.
  3.  Have someone perhaps your children’s leader who is willing to chat with families, welcome them and explain what the church can offer to children and their families.
  4. If you have a crèche make sure toys are clean, well maintained and age appropriate.
  5. Be genuine in your welcome! Most importantly introduce yourself, a warm welcome from the service leader or children’s group leader is key to them returning again!
What resources can you provide – and where can churches get them from?

To help we have two children’s resource packs available with two different themes to choose from ,“Don’t be a lost sheep join our fold” (see 'back to church Sunday 2011' link on the web page) or “Come and share our picnic!” both contain a selection of pick and mix ideas to use in your children’s groups or in an All age service on the Biblical theme.

They both begin by looking at the aims and themes of the session and, how to begin your planning in advance of Sun 30th September.

Packs have suggestions for crafts, games, storytelling and discussion time. They are by no means exhaustive lists but simply a tool to get you started in your thinking and planning.

Included in both packs are brightly coloured invitations to photocopy and give out to children in advance of the date.

Children love party invitations and are always enthusiastic to give them out to friends, and we have found this is a great way to encourage children to invite their friends along.
Packs can be either downloaded from our website or can be posted out on request.

We also have our Ark resource room based in St James House open each day where we have a wide selection of books, cds, DVDS, puppets and Godly play resources that can be borrowed to help you on BTCS. If I can be of any help in your planning please do contact me.

Above all on BTCS, do include the children. As church leaders, children workers, parents or members of the congregation it is our responsibility to equip them well to know God, to build a relationship with him, BTCS is a good place to start.

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Registering your church allows us to shout about the great work being done in our diocese to welcome people back to church. Register here.

Resource Packs

Download two different resource packs here